So with Alex Verus #12 creeping slowly but steadily onwards, I thought I’d talk a bit about something different – the ‘what are you going to write next?’ question. I’ve been asked it a ton of times by now, but it’s difficult to give a good answer because I’m not sure myself what the answer is.
I’m definitely going to keep on writing full-time, and the odds are pretty good that I’m going to end up doing another series. I’ve played around with the idea of doing a standalone novel just for a change, but I don’t know if I will. I’ve always liked long stories – I like the sense of adventure you get from setting off on a journey where you get to see the characters grow and change along the way. And writing a story as a series rather than as one giant doorstopper makes it more manageable to write and read.
On the other hand, starting a new series completely from scratch is a scary prospect. A book series is a huge investment of time and effort and there’s no guarantee that it’ll pay off. I’ve got a decent-sized readership these days, but just because they like the Alex Verus books doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll like the next thing I write too.
The other possibility is to write another series set in the Alex Verus universe, using the same setting and possibly some of the same characters as well. In a lot of ways it’s the safe option, because I know I’ve got a guaranteed group of readers who’d be interested. The problem is that it feels a lot like too safe an option – it feels a lot like treading water. Spin-off series are pretty much never as successful as the original, and I’ve always had the feeling that that’s because they’re inherently less interesting.
There’s also the fact that doing something new and scary was how I got the Alex Verus series in the first place. When I wrote the first draft of what would eventually turn into Fated, I’d never written anything like an urban fantasy novel before. If I hadn’t been willing to take the risk and try something new, I’d probably never have made it.
That said, assuming I do a new series, I’ve got the feeling I’d like to stay broadly within the urban fantasy genre. I’ve written books in a lot of genres in the past – children’s, children’s fantasy, science fiction, adventure, and even an epic fantasy novel that holds the dubious honour of being the only book of mine that I’ve ever abandoned a few chapters in. I like all those genres in their own way, but there’s something about urban fantasy that really appeals to me in a way that others don’t. It has all the things I like about epic fantasy, while still being tied closely to our world.
But as to what kind of urban fantasy . . . well, I’m still figuring that out. I’ll let you know when I do!